Russian investigators said on Thursday that the black box retrieved from last Saturday’s plane crash that killed 96 people including late Polish president Lech Kaczynski did not provide any evidence that the pilots had been pressured to land.
Officials said transcripts of conversations from the cockpit rebutted theories that the Polish delegation had insisted the pilot land, despite heavy fog at Smolensk airport in western Russia.
“There is no confirmation that any of the high-ranking passengers ordered the pilots to land near Smolensk. The flight recorder, whose tapes are being deciphered, did not register any pressure on crew members,” a source close to the commission investigating the crash told the Russian news agency Interfax.
The president’s Tupolov plane crashed during its first attempt to land, Russian officials said on Thursday, rejecting claims that it had tried to land on three occasions. It clipped a copse as it neared the runway, with a tree shearing off its left wing, then plunged into the ground and broke up.
Polish Attorney-General Krzysztof Parulski said the plane was travelling at a speed of 150m per second to 180m per second.
“Three to five seconds before the crash the pilots were aware that it was unavoidable,” he said.
This week former Polish prime minister Leszek Miller said he thought Kaczynski might have contributed to the accident by insisting the pilots land in Smolensk. Air traffic control on the ground had told the delegation to divert to Moscow or Minsk because of low visibility.
Kaczynski had been determined to attend a memorial service on the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, Miller said. “The pilot knew this and so they accepted the risk and in the process lost everything.”
Russian investigators said the most compelling explanation remained pilot error.
They said the crew had been informed well in advance that the military airfield was not equipped with a modern landing navigation system.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big